The most amazing ways to experience Italy this year

sunrise at the old baroque town of ragusa ibla in sicily historic center called ibla builded in late baroque style ragusa, sicily, italy, europe
The most amazing ways to experience ItalyPilat666 - Getty Images

There are few countries which can rival Italy when it comes to the classics. It's where you can see some of the world's finest Renaissance art in the galleries of Florence, bumble around the colourful harbour towns that tumble down the Amalfi Coast or explore the many islands of Venice, each with its own unique ambience.

And then, of course, there's Italy's inimitable food and wine scene – surely the main reason we keep returning time after time. Sample only the freshest burrata, finest olive oil and softest focaccia on a foodie tour of Puglia, sip your way around Veneto's many prosecco houses or tuck into the rustic Ladin dishes found in mountain villages across the Dolomites.

There's so much to see and do in Italy, whether it's heading into the bucolic hills surrounding Bologna, exploring the ancient, world-famous monuments of Rome, or visiting the ornate palazzo gardens of the Italian Lakes - an Italy holiday should be an annual occasion.

That's why we've rounded up the most amazing ways to explore Italy. Whether you're a foodie, an ancient history fan or love nothing more than relaxing by the sea as you watch the world go by, we've got the perfect Italian escape for you...

See Venice during a luxurious city break on water

A maze of atmospheric canals, grand piazzas and ornate palazzos, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Best seen from the water, you can visit her many islands by boat, including Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello. Cruise under the ornate stone bridges along the Grand Canal to St Mark's Square, home to Italy's most famous Byzantine cathedral, and don't miss a peek into 14th-century Doge's Palace, a spectacular example of Venetian Gothic architecture.

Of course, one of the best things about visiting Venice is the food. Spend a morning pottering around the Rialto Market or grab an espresso and biscotti in Caffè Florian, Europe's oldest coffee shop, which has been serving Venetians since 1720. As the sun sets, seek out a local bacaro for a spritz and cicchetti, Venetian-style tapas.

Explore the Venetian Lagoon and enjoy a memorable private performance from the world-famous tenor Russell Watson on Good Housekeeping's eight-day boutique cruise of Venice.


Alternatively, explore the culinary side of Veneto on Good Housekeeping's eight-day cruise with an exclusive appearance from top chef James Martin.


If after-hours tours are your thing, you'll want to know all about a luxury cruise that includes exclusive sightseeing like visiting the jaw-dropping St Mark's Basilica after nightfall to witness a peaceful lighting ceremony.


amazing ways to experience italy
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Feast on the natural attractions of Puglia

Fragrant olive oil, heavenly focaccia and the creamiest of burrata, Puglia is renowned for its incredible produce. Take a trip to Bari and sample the region's famous orecchiette, the ear-shaped pasta made by hand in the streets of the old town. Don't miss a taste of pasticciotti, a sweet pastry tartlet filled with cream and a sour cherry which is a speciality from Lecce.

Puglia has plenty of culture and heritage, too. Stop by Locorotondo, known as Puglia's prettiest town thanks to a tumble of whitewashed cottages. Explore the ancient caves and rock churches of Sassi di Matera, now a Unesco World Heritage Site, or visit Alberobello, the tiny village famous for its quirky trulli houses with coned roofs.

Good Housekeeping has a six-day foodie tour of Puglia, taking in the highlights of this gastronomic region. You'll learn how to make orecchiette pasta, tour an olive oil farm near Ostuni and enjoy a special Italian cookery masterclass.


amazing ways to experience italy
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Experience Tuscany and see Andrea Bocelli perform

With its expansive rolling vineyards, elegant cities bursting with culture, and enchanting medieval villages, no region quite captures the essence of la dolce vita quite like sunny Tuscany. Some of Italy’s best-loved wines, including fruity Chianti, hail from Tuscany, and go down perfectly with traditional Tuscan cuisine, like hearty soups and meaty stews.

Florence is a highlight of any trip to this region. This city, known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, is home to countless landmarks and attractions, from Michelangelo’s David to the Basilica of Santa Croce. There are many small towns and villages to discover dotted throughout the Tuscan countryside too, including the small medieval village of Lajatico, the hometown of world-renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli.

Join Good Housekeeping on a trip to Tuscany that takes you to Florence, Prato, Siena, and Lajatico, where you'll have tickets to see Andrea Bocelli's incredible annual concert at the Teatro del Silenzio.


aerial view of lajatico, medieval tuscan town
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Como over to Italy's legendary Alpine lakes

Chi-chi lakeside restaurants, pastel-hued palazzos and picture-perfect towns - there are a million and one reasons why Lake Como is one of the best-loved of Italy's lakes. Banked by the Alps, there are dozens of pretty towns and villages along its shores. Colico is one of the larger towns, famed for its elegant pastel-hued buildings and charming squares. It's also a good launch pad for a lake cruise under the gaze of the snow-capped mountains.

Close to the border of Switzerland, it's all too tempting to explore the alpine region of Italy and Switzerland a little further, so why not hop on the iconic cherry-red Bernina Express and chug through the scenic mountains over to St Moritz, Switzerland's snazziest resort for fondue?

Good Housekeeping has an eight-day rail holiday which includes a ride to St Moritz on the Bernina Express. You'll spend seven nights in the 19th-century Hotel Risi, located right on the northern shores of Lake Como.


amazing ways to experience italy
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Hit the prosecco trail in northern Italy’s Veneto region

Lovers of fine wine will be wowed by a to visit Italy's glorious Veneto region, where lush green hills are crisscrossed by seemingly endless vineyard terraces, bordered by beech forests and dotted with ancient villages. Many of the finest wineries in the Prosecco hills can be explored on behind-the-scenes tours where you'll get to learn about the region's winemaking traditions and, of course, taste some of the finest vintages.

Driving through these sun-kissed hills is the best way to take in the exceptional views as you travel between historic villages and vineyards. Some of the most picturesque pit stops to add to your route are Pieve di Soligo, with its baroque church and 19th-century Palazzo, and Bassano di Grappa, where you can visit the fascinating Poli Grappa Museum.

Good Housekeeping has a self-driven tour available where you'll visit the finest wineries in Veneto and e-bike along the heavenly ‘Path of Prosecco'.


farra di soligo col san martino church of san martino prosecco hills at sunset
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Discover the delicacies of beautiful Bologna

Bologna has a reputation as one of Italy's best cities for food. In fact, it's even earned the nickname La Grassa - or 'the fat one' - for its famous dishes, including meaty ragùs, hearty homemade pastas and spiced mortadella sausage. If you're feeling energetic, you can burn off the calories by climbing the 498 steps of Torre degli Asinelli to enjoy one of the most spectacular views of the city.

But there's more to Bologna than just food. The countryside surrounding this gourmet city is wonderful, with forests, waterfalls, and nature reserves to explore, offering a haven of serenity away from city life. Foodies will not want to miss nearby Modena either, where fruity balsamic vinegar is produced from the sweet white grapes that grow in peaceful vineyards.

Good Housekeeping is offering a unique gourmet getaway to Bologna and Modena, where you'll visit local producers and enjoy a hands-on cooking lesson.


architecture of bologna
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Whisk yourself away to fair Verona

As the setting of Romeo and Juliet, where could be more romantic than Verona? While many who visit here are charmed by the city's links to Shakespeare's great romantic tragedy - and you'll find plenty of references throughout the city - Verona has more to it than legendary literary status.

Within centuries-old walls lies a city known for its history and Renaissance architecture. Explore the city's many historic landmarks, including the ancient Roman amphitheatre, the Ponte Pietra bridge, and the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore. Then stroll through the picturesque streets and lively piazzas, pausing to feast on delicious northern Italian cuisine.

Good Housekeeping offers a fabulous week-long escorted tour to Italy, staying near the Lakes. It includes a tour of Lake Garda and day trips to Venice and Verona, with a choice of wonderful lakeside hotels for your base.


view of the historic center of the city of verona, italy and the ponte pietra bridge and river adige from the hillside fortress of castel san pietro, with groups of rafters enjoying a ride on the river
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Ride in luxury on the Orient Express from Venice to Paris

If you're looking for a rail holiday with a difference, a journey on board one of the world's most famous trains between two of Europe's most culture-packed cities is hard to beat. The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express is the height of luxury train travel, with meticulously restored 1920s carriages and plush dining cars.

One of the routes you can take on board this historic train is from Venice to Paris, including a seasonal four-course d'hôte menu for dinner before a night spent in a luxurious cabin where you'll sleep soundly between crisp damask sheets and fine blankets as you glide across the continent.

Good Housekeeping has a very special trip available on the Orient Express where you'll enjoy the company of journalist and rail expert Michael Portillo. Before boarding the train you'll have three nights to spend in Venice, exploring the highlights of this enchanting city.


a bedroom with a bed and a bunk bed
Venice-Simplon Orient Express

Admire the glittering coast and fascinating history of Sicily

Italy's largest island is a magnet for those wanting sun, sea and sand as well as a whole lot of history. Alongside its exquisite natural landscapes, Sicily is home to a variety of intriguing ancient Roman and Greek ruins standing between exquisite Baroque palazzos.

One of the top spots for history buffs visiting the island is Agrigento, where you'll find the monumental Valley of the Temples, a renowned archaeological wonder including the remarkably preserved Temple of Concordia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And between visits to incredible historic monuments, you can treat yourself to some of the region's fine food and wine, with abundant fresh seafood from the surrounding Mediterranean Sea.

Join Good Housekeeping's eight-day Sicily tour and enjoy visits to the Valley of the Temples, Ragusa, Mount Etna and Taormina. The tour is specially designed for solo travellers, with prices based on single occupancy of a double room.


sunrise at the old baroque town of ragusa ibla in sicily historic center called ibla builded in late baroque style ragusa, sicily, italy, europe
Pilat666 - Getty Images

Taste your way around Tuscany

Another top pick for a memorable foodie holiday in Italy is rural Tuscany, where sun-kissed hillsides are carpeted in vineyards, and where the typical 'cucina povera' centres around simple, homegrown ingredients cooked in traditional recipes. This is true farm-to-table dining with the freshest of Tuscan produce.

As well as classic, homely food, Tuscany has plenty of fine dining to try, with more than 30 Michelin-starred restaurants and a huge range of excellent locally-produced wines to enjoy. Siena, one of the region's best-loved cities, is famous for its sweet treats, and you can pay a visit to a local pasticceria to learn the stories behind traditional Sienese cakes like ricciarelli, cantucci and panpepato, and taste some for yourself.

Good Housekeeping is offering an eight-day gourmet tour of Tuscany with farm visits, wine tastings, a cooking class in Cypress and a visit to Livorno's famous Vettovaglie food market.


italy,tuscany,san gimignano at sunset
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Tour Italy's glorious northern lakes on a no-fly getaway

With their gorgeous Alpine views, elegant villas and exquisite villages, Italy's northern lakes have been a chic holiday destination since Roman times. It's no wonder they're a celebrity holiday hotspot, with the likes of Richard Branson, Brad Pitt, Madonna, and George and Amal Clooney reportedly owning holiday homes on the lakes.

There is something for everyone here, with glorious hiking routes, water sports on the lakes, and beaches that make a great freshwater alternative to the coast. It's also a haven for gardeners, or anyone with an appreciation for plants, with delightful botanical gardens to be found in the grounds of historic villas.

Explore Italy's lakes with Good Housekeeping on a nine-day no-fly tour. You'll stay in a lakeside hotel on Lake Maggiore, take a boat trip to the Borromean islands and venture to neighbouring Switzerland to see the mighty Matterhorn.


multi colored azaleas flowering in cannobio, famous tourist destination on the shore of lake maggiore, province of verbano cusio ossola, piedmont region in northern italy
Federica Grassi - Getty Images

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